Going into Saturday’s slate of college football games, Ohio State and Oregon still had résumés that were comparable enough that the College Football Playoff selection committee ranked the Ducks ahead of the Buckeyes because of Oregon’s head-to-head win over Ohio State on Sept. 10.
That changed in a big way in the second-to-last week of the regular season.
While Ohio State made its biggest statement of the season with a 56-7 dismantling of seventh-ranked Michigan State, Oregon’s playoff hopes went up in flames as the Ducks were themselves dismantled by No. 23 Utah, 38-7, to suffer their second loss of the season.
Poetically, former Cincinnati running back Tavion Thomas had three rushing touchdowns for the Utes while Britain Covey had a 78-yard punt return touchdown on the final play of the first half as Utah rolled to a victory that effectively eliminated the Pac-12 from playoff contention while potentially clearing the path for Cincinnati to make the CFP if it wins out.
It was the most lopsided loss Oregon has ever suffered as a top-five-ranked team.
Oregon’s loss ensures that Ohio State will move up to at least No. 3 in this week’s CFP rankings – if not No. 2, as the selection committee will have plenty of reason to debate Ohio State vs. Alabama again this week – while Michigan should also be in line for a top-five ranking to set up a clash of top-five teams in this week’s rivalry game in Ann Arbor.